Barony of the Dead
The "Barony of the Dead" is a mostly unpopulated set of ruins in the Border Baronies region. Tentative Geographic Assignment: Spot 13 Basic Concept: The Barony of the dead is mostly empty ruins that are watched carefully by priests and holy warriors lest the ancient necromantic evils rise again here. History: Long ago someone started carving rock tombs in a rugged valley. Over time the tombs spread out into the valley floor, small mausoleums, cenotaphs, dolmens, obelisks, and other markers were added. Hundreds of tombs in at least twelve different styles were created. No one knows if it began as a Valley of Kings, or in the aftermath of a large battle. Today, the dead rest uneasy in this desolate place. Many of the living have gone to explore the silent city, many fewer have returned. There may be a single necromancer who guards his realm vigorously. There might be as many as three who re-fight battles long since finished over and over. Some visitors report a strange Count who has hosted them in a castle overlooking the valley floor. Others have reported the castle deserted. Government Style: People don’t really live here. The Keepers , Masks , and Guardians have an uneasy alliance to occupy these ruins and provide a first line of defense if something dark rises. So far no ancient evils seems to be bubbling up from the ruins, but outside forces have tried to meddle in the area fairly regularly requiring the three local holy orders to put them down violently. Most of the priests and holy warriors guarding the area are human, but the Order of the Stone (a dwarven religious knightly order dedicated to protecting pilgrims to and from the Great Stone of Meckelorn) delivers most of the locals’ provisions. In theory the Order of the Stone is bound by treaty to help fight if any ancient evil stuff goes down but in reality, it’s unlikely they would be able to arrive in time. Character of the Realm: Quiet, foreboding. Still as a mausoleum. The guardians are generally humorless and stoic. A few locals overcompensate with awkward forced joviality. Religion: The Keepers, Masks, and Guardians literally rule here. Visiting priests and theurgists are permitted as long as they are not affiliated with Maylar or Greymoria. Challenges: The holy orders are guarding against an ancient evil that they don’t fully understand. They don’t even know why the site is tainted. That means when and if a problem comes they won’t be able to predict what form the will take. The realm is not self-sufficient. If their supply caravans are cut off for whatever reason, it’s unlikely the defenders would last much longer than six months and that's only because the defenders are fanatic enough to hold their ground while suffering from malnutrition.
There is a lot of evidence (though no absolute proof) that Vladimir the Conqueror was at least partially involved in creating the necromantic taint in the area now known as the Barony of the Dead. It is also a possibility that someone or something else created the magical anomaly and Vladimir merely tried to adapt the site to his use. If Vladimir was involved, it is obvious that he he worked to keep his involvement here a secret as he did not undergo any major military or political action in the area. While few give the doomsayers much credence, there is a persistent rumor that Vladimir either faked or his death and entered a long hibernation like sleep or set up some means of ensuring his eventual resurrection. If that is the case, it's likely the Barony of the Dead is a major component of his plans. Even though the Barony of the Dead has not had to repel a major threat in over a century, the mere whisper of Vladimir's involvement is enough to convince the priests and priestesses occupying the area to maintain their vigil.